I can, and you could go as well.
Today, I would like to share a method I’ve found to help manage all these competing goals.
It’s called: Mini habits.
A few years ago, I wanted to implement meditation daily and make it a regular habit. So I told myself: “From now on, I’ll do 20 minutes of meditation every single day.” Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as I had hoped.
Often I couldn’t even bring myself to start meditating, let alone do 20 minutes of it. I would make excuses like: “I have to be somewhere else in 20 minutes; I don’t have time to meditate now.” So I didn’t meditate that day for even 1 minute. Then I would often feel bad the next day, and I would say to myself: “Ok, now I’ll make up for it and do 40 minutes today.” Yeah, that also didn’t work out. But then I decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of having such high expectations of myself, I decided to do my meditation practice.
As easy as possible. I reduced the time I wanted to meditate from 20 minutes to 2 minutes. This way, no matter what happened in my day, I could achieve my meditation goal.
It didn’t matter how tired or busy I was; I could always find 2 minutes somewhere in my day, so there were no excuses. One of the biggest problems people have is that we expect too much from ourselves. And as a result of those high expectations, we sometimes don’t get anything done.
You might expect to go to the gym and workout for 1 hour. But what happens when you only have 40 minutes to spare?
Most people wouldn’t go to the gym because their goal is to exercise for 1 hour. So instead of getting 40 minutes of exercise, they settle for 0 minutes instead. Their high expectations are preventing them from doing what they’ve set out to do. And that’s the wrong approach.
This is where the mini habits come in. Nearly mini practices are habits where the expectation is so low that you can do them every day without fail.
And even someone who’s depressed or stuck in a mental rut can find success. Remember all those activities I listed at the beginning?
They were mini versions. When I said I do those activities, I didn’t mean I do them for 1 hour each.
Instead, I practice the piano for just 3 minutes, read 1 page of a book, meditate for 2 minutes, and exercise by doing a few push-ups.
Now you might think I’m unproductive. If you read just 1 page of a book per day, that won’t get you anywhere.
Well, that’s not necessarily the case. I have these small habits because they allow me to get everything done over a more extended period, and I create patterns that stick.
Years ago, when I struggled with my meditation practice, turning it into a mini version made all the difference.
Since the expectation was so low, I had no problem starting the habit. As a result, what happened is that when I made the habit for those 2 minutes, I would often do a little more afterward.
So ultimately, what ended up happening is I would sometimes do 20 minutes of meditation, even if the goal were just 2 minutes. That’s why mini habits work so well. If you don’t feel like making the habit that day, or if you’re low on time, you do the mini version.
This way, you still get something done, and there’s no guilt afterward. But often, you will find that the mini version expands into a more extended version. On some days, your motivation will be high, and you’ll keep on going for much longer.
If you have mini habits, it doesn’t mean you’re unproductive. While my expectation might be to read 1 page of a book, I often read for 30 minutes or more. Same with all my other habits.
I’m sure you heard of Newton’s first law before. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Objects at rest tend to remain at rest. This can be said about humans as well. If you’re currently procrastinating, it’s complicated to make yourself study for 1 hour. However, if you’ve been exploring for 3 minutes already, it’s so much easier to continue learning. And that is what mini habits do.
They help us get started because they don’t require too much commitment from us. Creating something is often the biggest problem we have when it comes to productivity. Once we start and gain a bit of momentum, it’s much easier to keep ongoing. If you expect to clean your entire room, you might never get around to do it,
because the thought of doing all that work seems daunting.
Instead, you want to commit to something super easy like; just organizing your desk. When you do that, you’ll find it much easier to continue since you have already started. You might then get some extra motivation and do some more cleaning.
But even if you don’t feel like doing anything else afterward, you still did something, which is more than nothing.
And this type of minimalistic approach will get you more results in the long run than the typical process.
A typical habit usually looks like this: You set a big goal where your expectations are high.
The first few days go fine as you feel motivated. Then whoopsy, you had to miss a day because something else came up.
However, you manage to get another good day in. But again, life gets in the way, and you had to miss two days in a row. And this continues on and on…
Until you can’t bring yourself to make the habit any longer, and it falls apart. Now a minimal pattern looks like this:
You set a goal for yourself, but it’s a tiny goal, and the expectation is low. So low that it’s super easy to do it every day. You always do a little, but sometimes you have time and energy to do more.
And even if life gets in the way, you’re able to do the mini version no matter what because it’s so minuscule.
Nearly you never miss a day. So even after months, you are still going and continuing the habit. You commit the minimum effort towards a goal but make it highly frequent. And in the long run, mini habits pay off much more than typical practices. Now I encourage you to find something that you’re continually procrastinating on and apply the mini habit concept there. Make the habit so small that you’ll never have a problem starting it.
So whatever that might be; studying, building a business, exercising, writing, meditating, or cleaning.
Make the goal so small that you cannot fail.
Study for 1 minute.
Do one push-up.
Read 1 page.
Remember, objects in motion stay in motion.
Motivation to continue will come after starting.
Thanks for Reading.